Fiercely Small: Porticos Helps Design Radios that Channel Durability and Portability

Police need reliable technology that can work overtime. Fire responders need loud, clear communication tools that work in any environment. EMS need multiple communication channels, so they’re always accessible. They all need their equipment to be as tough as the people using them.

But just like the rest of us, emergency responders also need their technology to be portable. When Harris, a leader in communications technology, was ready to work on the development of a smaller, LTE-capable portable radio, Porticos was proud to answer the call.

Harris has been a leader in radio technology for over 80 years, meaning many of Harris’ customers have already purchased accessories for other radio series. They knew that the new radios would need to remain backward compatible with these accessories while channeling cutting-edge advancements in size, durability, and quality.

The radio would have to offer the best in communications technology, including extended battery life, superior audio quality, plus GPS, Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi, and LTE capability.

Most important, they would need to be built tough: sealed against water, protected against drops, and ready to work in fast-paced, sometimes dangerous environments. Furthermore the radios needed to be easily upgradeable to allow the customer to take advantage of LTE technology or upgrade from single-band to full-spectrum at their convenience.

Balancing the need for durability and portability is a challenge that Porticos has met before. Porticos team members focused on each aspect of the design to ensure that the modular construction wouldn’t impact the durability. For example, in order to meet this project’s goals for extended and upgradeable battery life, Porticos developed an external, replaceable battery with an innovative latch system that is both easy to remove in the field and durable enough to stay in place during harsh use. This allows for easy battery replacement in the field or upgrades to higher capacity batteries for customers who need it.

Product Design for Durability“We tested the product in some incredibly harsh environments to ensure that these radios will be reliable in the field,” said Porticos engineer Mike Kiplinger.

With the end customers in mind, the Porticos team also spent a lot of time considering ergonomics. As a result the radios’ side buttons and top switches were designed to be easy to operate and replace, but also reliable enough to stay in place during use.

Porticos is proud to have been chosen by Harris as a development partner and of our ability to achieve world class results by developing the smallest full-spectrum LTE-capable portable radio on the planet; the Harris XL-200P.

A phone with no phone bill? Porticos-designed adapter turns iPod into a wi-fi phone!

The new MorphCase 5G VoIP adapter turns an Apple iPod Touch into a free-to-use, wifi-enabled smartphone. Conceptualized by Dexterity, LLC, the adapter was envisioned as a low-cost communication solution for families wary of cellular phone bills.

This first version of the MorphCase only fit the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Generation iPod Touch. But the recently completed MorphCase 5G design not only fits the 5th Generation iPod Touch—its robust, low-profile case anticipates future iPod Touch models, promising extended utility.

morphcase rendering ipod adapter
Businesses, individuals, and families can use the MorphCase 5G with their iPod touch to keep from paying a cellular phone bill.

When Dexterity, LLC originally contacted Porticos with the challenge, the plan was to update the existing MorphCase for the size of the 5th generation iPod touch, but Porticos also focused on value-engineering for manufacturability, streamlining of design features, and taking great ideas to production.

“Our expertise identified ways to improve the internal systems, fortify the exterior casing, and optimize electronics and routing for ease of manufacturing and assembly,” explained Greg Patterson, President of Porticos. “This was a great example of what can be achieved when the customer and engineering team are working together and receptive to new ideas.”

morphcase adapter for ipod turn ipod into phone
The second-generation MorphCase design integrates new structural features for a streamlined profile and ease of manufacturing.

“The value Porticos brings to engineering and design for manufacturability has made them the collaborative team I can’t do without,” said Adrienne Harrington, creator of the MorphCase. “Anyone in need of flawless engineering and design work—no matter what stage—should look no further.”

With free wi-fi available everywhere (home, school, work, and millions of hotspots), all users need is the MorphCase 5G and any VoIP App to transform their iPod Touch into a no-monthly-bill Wi-Fi Smartphone. With Apple FaceTime, iMessage, and countless social media apps, along with the VoIP-enabled calls and texts, the opportunities for users to stay in touch over wi-fi are better than ever.

Digital Medication Dispensing—An Easy Pill to Swallow

Deadly medication mixups threaten patients and those involved in their care. Drug interactions, lawsuits, and even death can result from human error or lack of communication. Suppose a prescription is hard to read, or a patient forgets to take a pill?

PharmMate™, Porticos’s latest engineering challenge, takes the uncertainty out of prescription management by dispensing medicines as scheduled—no need to rely on a patient’s failing memory or coordination between family members. The brainchild of the medication-focused PharmRight Corporation, PharmMate™ sorts, counts, and dispenses dosages according to the doctor’s orders.

Need a reminder? The device syncs with cloud-based applications and reports, records, and reminds patients and health care teams about medication schedules. At the office or on the go, caregivers can ensure patients get the right meds at the right time, simplifying medication delivery and tracking in-home patient compliance.

Streamlined Design Means Streamlined Function

A refined, efficient design makes the appliance user-friendly and reduces cost. Medical Team Leader Ken Hogue explains how the team brainstormed many solutions then prototyped the highest ranked idea. “After several incremental improvements we arrived at the final design. As often happens in innovation, the final design is a hybrid taking the best elements of several ideas.”

Complex Problems, Simplified

Pharmaceuticals come in dozens of shapes and sizes, a significant challenge for Porticos engineers. Designing a delivery system to accommodate all pill configurations demanded creative collaboration, and engineers had to anticipate the needs of patients, pharmacists, medical professionals, and family members. The design team considered multiple contingencies, ensuring that the end product offers reliable dispensing of the whole range of pill sizes and shapes.

Bill Park, President and CEO of PharmRight Corporation, is confident that “Our new home medication dispenser design will greatly simplify setup for caregivers, enable direct loading by pharmacy service providers using RFID technology, and make it easy for patients to take their medications as prescribed.”

Working Prototype Undergoes Testing

Porticos demonstrated a working prototype of the PharmMate™ and PharmRight will conduct internal testing on the complete system in August 2014. A 50-unit usability test is scheduled for the fourth quarter 2014.

 

About Porticos— Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve. Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others. For more information on how Porticos does “product design for the way we’re designed,” please visit www.porticos.net.

A Next-Generation Blood Clotting Test for the Point of Care

If you’re bleeding, how does the doctor know whether you need a transfusion? How does she know how much to give, or when to stop? Today there are diagnostics tests that provide this information, but not enough hospitals use them beccause they’re expensive, complicated, and unreliable. What if there was a simpler test that was small and easy-to-use? Transfusion outcomes would improve and hospitals would save money.

Rheomics LogoThe Chapel Hill-based startup Rheomics is developing a device to solve this problem. Using Rheomics’s patent-pending Actuated Surface-Attached Post (ASAP) technology, doctors will be able to direct transfusion therapy using only a pinprick of blood in a simple, effective test.

A device, using Rheomics’s patent-pending Actuated Surface-Attached Post (ASAP) technology, that doctors will be able to use for a simple, effective test using only a pinprick of blood.Rheomics contacted Porticos because they needed to demonstrate that their technology could be packaged in a compact, low-cost device. Continue reading “A Next-Generation Blood Clotting Test for the Point of Care”

Porticos Creativity Fuels Generator Adaptor Project

Versatile enough to run on nail polish remover, the flex-fuel generator by INI Power Systems was already an ideal portable power source. But when they were ready to expand the product, INI Power Systems approached Porticos with the challenge: create an adaptor that enabled the generator to also consume compressed gas, such as propane. Expanding functionality while maintaining the generator’s portable size required extensive creativity and expert design. The Porticos design team met these challenges and developed an adaptor to fit all of the INI Power System requests. Continue reading “Porticos Creativity Fuels Generator Adaptor Project”

Novel Medical Device Automatically Monitors Patient Temperatures

Protective hypothermia, a medical treatment that lowers a patient’s body temperature, helps to reduce the risk of tissue injury due to insufficient blood-flow after cardiac arrests, strokes, or traumatic brain injuries. Water blankets and wraps have been used to lower patients’ body temperatures since the 1950s, but they can overshoot the temperature goal. The Navy and Air Force Medical Services Agency recently contracted a team to develop a smarter sensor device to help manage patients’ temperatures automatically. Porticos developed the mechanical system for this innovative project Continue reading “Novel Medical Device Automatically Monitors Patient Temperatures”

Porticos’s Latest Development Project Implements Kid-Friendly Design in a Revolutionary Communication Device

Is there any fear stronger than fear for a missing child? According to the US Department of Justice, nearly 800,000 American children are reported missing every year. Together with Filip Technology™, Porticos has developed a groundbreaking tool that will help parents keep in touch with their children: The FiLIP™. This revolutionary communication device is designed for parents who want to keep in touch with their children but aren’t ready to give kids access to a full-featured phone.

The Porticos team aims for innovation, and that’s exactly what this project required. The idea was to develop an easy-to-use device that could make phone calls, send emergency alerts or short messages, and share and save location-based data. All of the electronic hardware required for those services also needed to be small, portable, and—most important—child proof. According to Porticos’s Medical Team Leader Ken Hogue, size and durability were two main design goals.

“The real challenge of the project was to achieve an item that is the world’s smallest in its category,” said Hogue. “The FiLIP™ has a simple, clean appearance and sophisticated electronics, packed into the smallest package possible.  Every component had to be justified, or it was eliminated.”

The device was recently named “the world’s smallest commercially available communications and location device.” Hogue attributes this award to the “novel proprietary design,” which resulted in two patent applications with Porticos engineers listed as inventors. However, the small, wristwatch-like* FiLIP™ is also durable. It weighs less than two ounces, but its rugged, water resistant design easily fits with a kid’s lifestyle.

A new survey by Parenting.com lists the average age of a child receiving their first cell phone as 11.6 years old. According to the study, over 95% of parents surveyed listed “emergencies” or “peace of mind,” as reasons for purchasing a mobile device for kids. However, giving young children cell phones does more than keep them in touch with parents; it opens them to the world of mobile texts, picture and video sharing, Internet browsing, and more—some of which they may not be ready for.  Additionally, the devices are expensive and fragile, often not built with children in mind. The small-but-durable FiLIP™ is a better solution, because it only includes features that parents would want for their child, and its durability is better suited for kids. It’s a specific product that strives to perfectly match the needs of a specific audience.

Of course, this difficult design work is what Porticos does best: turns good ideas into great products. The challenge took innovation, but the result is a fantastic device that meets a real need. “It’s all worth it to create a unique product that can bring parents peace of mind,” said Hogue.

*Additional accessories provide for alternate wearing and carrying possibilities.

About Porticos — Porticos, Inc. is a mechanical engineering and product development company located in Research Triangle Park, NC. Established in 2003, Porticos continues to produce innovative and effective solutions for its clients and the markets they serve. Porticos, Inc. provides mechanical design, analysis, research and development services to clients including Dell, Motorola, Raytheon, and many others. For more information on how Porticos “turns good ideas into great products,” please visit www.porticos.net.

About Filip Technology™ —Filip Technology™ is focused on providing solutions designed to keep us in touch with those who matter most. Its products combine the two most important elements in family mobile offerings – communications and safety. Founded in 2010, Filip Technology is privately held with headquarters in London and U.S. offices in New York and Raleigh, North Carolina. The FiLIP™ was developed by a global team of engineers and is manufactured in the U.S. in partnership with AMTI.

They Made It! Congratulations to the successful Scott Expedition

On the morning of Friday, February 7th, Ben Saunders and Tarka L’Herpiniere completed, for the first time ever, the ill-fated journey of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s iconic Terra Nova expedition. It took the Team 105 days to trek the 1,795 mile feat that Captain Scott and his men died attempting over 100 years ago.

The Team was able to share their journey with the world through their public blog at http://scottexpedition.com/blog. In order to publish from Antarctica, they needed unique satellite equipment. Porticos worked with Iridium to customize the Pilot™, a satellite antenna array dome that the Team used to share their progress live via real-time blog posts. To learn more about Porticos’s involvement with the expedition, see our original blog post, Following The Scott Expedition Through Antarctica: The Customized Satellite Project Worthy Of A South Pole Adventure.

Ben and Tarka created a video summarizing their journey, which can be viewed here: http://scottexpedition.com/blog/a-great-adventure-video.

Porticos is Invited to ASSIST with NSF-Funded and University-Supported Nanotechnology Research

Porticos is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies. The $18.5M Engineering Research Center is developing technologies to improve global health through nanotechnology-enabled, wearable electronics. Continue reading “Porticos is Invited to ASSIST with NSF-Funded and University-Supported Nanotechnology Research”

State-of-the-Art Mail Tray Loader Moves Paper at 150 Inches per Second

Porticos has supported Bell and Howell, a leading global provider of customer communication solutions, on many complex paper handling designs since establishing a relationship over five years ago.

 

The most recent of these multipart projects is the Solix™ Mail Tray Loader, which handles up to 30,000 envelopes an hour.  That equates to an impressive 150 inches of paper per second! Continue reading “State-of-the-Art Mail Tray Loader Moves Paper at 150 Inches per Second”